Fifteen Ways to Have Fun With Your Family This Fall

I’m slowly, but surely learning that the more time I spend thinking about how I want to spend my time and how I want those activities to make me feel, the less time I spend mindlessly watching TV or trolling around Facebook.

My word of the year is connection, so keeping that in mind, I’m making plans for this fall which involves my friends and family.

I, like most people it would seem, love fall. Here in Sacramento, it cools down to the mid 80s and you can finally enjoy being outside in the afternoon. The leaves turn color and you can wear boots and layers and for the most part never be cold.

Fall is a good thing.

fall fun


1.     Go to Apple Hill (or your region’s equivalent) and eat all of the apple things. There has been talk of apple donuts, apple pie, apple cider. And, of course, garlic french fries.

2.     Celebrate Family Day – we celebrate the day we became a family with everyone taking the day off from work. We spend the day together, we go out to eat and this year we’re eating all the apples.

3.     Pick your own pumpkins at a pumpkin patch. We go to Uncle Ray’s because it’s a low-key place. The only thing you pay for is your pumpkins. Even parking is free. Plus it is less than 20 minutes from home. A perfect weekday field trip with the two-year old.

4.     Get lost in a corn maze – Uncle Ray’s is perfect for little ones.

5.     Tractor-pulled hay ride – Uncle Ray’s takes you on a little tour of the farm in the back of a hay-filled tractor. Last year, Little Girl, could not stop clapping. She absolutely loved it. So we’ll go again.

6.     Train rideThe Sacramento River Train goes between West Sacramento and Woodland. Three hours and ends up at, you guessed it, Uncle Ray’s! Apparently there is food and it takes three hours. This might be a mama friend date trip.

7.     Ginkgo leaf photos of Little Girl. So ginkgo trees down the block from us, or as I like to call them, The Twins, get absolutely spectacular in the fall turning from a lovely shade of green to the most brilliant yellow. I’ve been taking photos of the baby in those leaf piles for the last two years and I plan to do it again. I’m super glad they are in the front of someone’s house, so I don’t have to ask to go in someone else’s back yard to get these photos.

Plus waiting for the perfect time to take the photos forces me to watch those leaves closely. It’s a win, win!

8.     Watch the leaves change. See above. I’m on high alert. This is a new favorite fall activity.

9.     Try five new fall recipes. Haven’t decided what to make yet, so if you’d like me to make your favorite, leave a link in the comment section. I’ll most likely be using Pinterest as my recipe finder.

10.     Homecoming parade and football game. I went to my 25th high school reunion this past summer and visited the brand new campus of my alma mater, so it really only makes sense that I go to Homecoming this year. I don’t think I’ve been in at least 23 years. Also: I am old.

11.     Attend a soccer game to see my BFF’s son play. We are not yet being held hostage by sports every weekend, so this actually sounds like fun. And there will likely be delicious brunch after.

12.     Read fall themed books from the library. Over and over and over again. Our little bookworm lives in the land of repeats, so we might as well make them seasonal. Here’s some Halloween books and some pumpkin books and some monster books and some fall books and some more fall books.

13.     Consider an alternative to pumpkin carving.  I’m thinking pounding golf tees into a pumpkin would be a good idea.

14.  Tuck pretty leaves between the pages of your favorite books to be found laterNow I just have to wait until those damn leaves change color so I can start this business.

15.     Sign up for a seasonal class. My favorite is Yoga for Holiday Stress with my friend, Madeleine over at It’s All Yoga.

What’s on your Fall Fun list?


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For more Fall Frolic ideas see:

Embrace Fall by Rosie Molinary

Fifteen Fun Things For Fall from Yes and Yes

101+ Fall Activities and Crafts from Kids from Growing A Jeweled Rose

Teacher Cooks Edition! Minestrone-ish Soup

You know when you find a recipe and once you try it, you can’t imagine how you ever lived without it? Well, Poor Girl Eats Well’s Not Quite Minestrone Soup is my new damn-near obsession.

It is ridiculously easy to make and I’m sure it will help keep us healthy in the upcoming cold and flu season.

Plus, it’s dairy free and full of Israeli couscous. So really, what could be better?

Without further ado, I bring you Not Quite Minestrone Soup.

minestrone soup


Recipe is so close to the one from Poor Girl Eats Well, click over there to see what’s up.

Not Quite Minestrone Soup

Serves 6-8

Ingredients Notes:

I always use canned diced tomatoes. Ruby won’t let me keep fresh tomatoes in the house because she eats them too fast. Since she hasn’t quite figured out the can opener yet, we’re safe for now.

The zucchini was in one time and out another without a huge difference. One time I totally forgot the spinach and it was still delicious.

Remember how I’m totally obsessed with Israeli couscous? Well, I still am and therefore double the amount in the recipe making more of a stew and less of a soup.

I’m pretty sure there isn’t any way to mess this soup up.

What to do:

Make it often. I will be sad when it is too hot to eat this soup.


What’s for dinner at your house these shorter, cooler days?

Not really feeling this recipe? You can always visit the recipe archive for more dinner ideas.

Photo Credit: Me

TGBTS Cooks Edition! Sweet Potato Black Bean Stew

Fall is coming! Fall is coming! And with the cooling of temperatures (at least in the mornings and evenings) comes my desire to eat all the fall foods: soups, stews, curries and pumpkin spiced treats.

Does this happen to you? I swear with the changing of the seasons I find myself ridiculously excited for certain foods.

Anyway, I was inspired to make the stew not only because of the change in season, but also I needed to use up some pantry items I unearthed in my Great Pantry Re-Do of 2012.

Without further ado, I bring you Sweet Potato Black Bean Stew.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Stew

Recipe is based on the one from Ready Made Magazine – December/January 2011 issue.

Serves 6-8


1 TBS vegetable oil

2 Sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes

1 onion, peeled and roughly diced

1 red pepper, seeds removed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

1 jalapeño {omitted – I am not so spicy and neither is my baby}.

1 clove garlic minced

1 TBS chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp cayenne {omitted}

3 Cups vegetable broth

14.5 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained {I used slow cooked beans from the freeze because I am fancy that way}

14.5 oz can of diced roasted tomatoes with juices

1 Cup frozen corn

1/4 cup chopped cilantro {replaced with green onions because I forgot to buy it}

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

shredded cheddar to serve {replaced with chunks of avocado – dairy allergy, yo}

What to do:

1.  Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. Add sweet potatoes, onion, red pepper, (and jalapeño if you are using it) and garlic, stirring to coat with oil. Saute until onion and peppers are soft about 4 minutes.

2.  Add chili powder and cumin (+ cayenne if you are using it) and stir well. Reduce heat to medium, cover and allow potatoes to soften about 7-8 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally.

3.  Once potatoes are fork tender, add broth, black beans and tomatoes. Bring it to a boil, stirring well and scraping all the bits off the bottom of the pot. Add corn, reduce heat to simmer and cook for another 15 minutes (or way, way longer).

4. Before serving, stir in green onions (or cilantro if you remembered it) and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with chunks of ripe avocado (or cheddar).

I served this with tortilla chips one night, ate it over basmati rice one meal and mashed it up for the baby for lunch and even had enough for a small gathering of friends. So, so good! And yes, I even found a way to incorporate sliced black olives because that’s how we roll these days.


What’s for dinner at your house these shorter, cooler days?

Not really feeling this recipe? You can always visit the recipe archive for more dinner ideas.

sweet potato black bean stew

Photo Credit: Me